A controversial plan to trial beachfront vegetation lopping has been before a State Parliamentary Committee Inquiry into Crown Land.
The committee chaired by former Shoalhaven mayor Paul Green heard evidence last week from the property owner group advocating for tree removal that “certain interest groups have claimed ownership of the dunes and illegally planted trees that have blocked views”.
However Annie Boutland said this week “the claim is extraordinary and completely false”.
Ms Boutland oversees two Bushcare sites in Ulladulla that have suffered vandalism to vegetation.
Co-campaigner against the lopping trial, Mark Corrigan agrees.
“To suggest that there is illegal planting compared to illegal destruction, I am shocked and flabbergasted,” Mr Corrigan told the inquiry.
After someone recently slashed vegetation above Bommie surf break at the Parson Street cul-de-sac in Ulladulla, Shoalhaven City Council erected a Tree Vandalism Site sign asking for public help to prosecute offenders.
Council is encouraging anyone who spots suspicious activity to report it.
They’ve warned that penalties for the destruction of vegetation have increased, with fines up to $22,000.
A patch of vegetation of approximately 200 square metres was recently heavily pruned.
“This occurred only metres from the site of a huge landslip,” Ms Boutland said.
“The culprits obviously didn’t understand that the vegetation is vital to prevent further landslips.
“I can’t understand the ill-informed criticism of Bushcare volunteers.
“They help manage extensive areas of public reserve, with approval under formal action plans, that Council could not otherwise afford to undertake.”
The subject matter before the Upper House committee inquiry into Crown Land is the Collingwood Beach Dune Vegetation Plan.
Shoalhaven councillors voted to defer it, including the establishment of the proposed lopping trial site at Collingwood Beach on Jervis Bay.
The establishment of the site is pending a report from council staff on legal, environmental and community concerns.
Bob Pullinger for Collingwood Beach Preservation Group told the inquiry that over the years “promises made to the community that low-growth vegetation would be planted on the dunes that would not block views have not been kept”.
Opponents claimed the trial would green light private property owners throughout the Shoalhaven from Bawley Point north chopping vegetation to improve their ocean views.
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